MALIA MEI: A Courageous Birth – Part I

When we got our hands on the birth story of a very special little lady as seen through the eyes of her father, we couldn’t put it down. We don’t often have the opportunity to experience the challenges of bringing babies into this world through the perspective of their dads. Michael Moline, a college instructor, loving husband and devoted father, has graciously agreed to let us launch a series using his writing on this very topic. He titled his memoir “Malia Mei: A Courageous Birth” and we will be sharing it in multiple parts on a bi-weekly basis right here on the blog. We couldn’t be more honored that he is allowing us to share his beautiful work and we think you will love it as much as we do. Please include your questions and thoughts in the comments and we will make sure Michael has the opportunity to address them.

MALIA MEI: A Courageous Birth

by Michael Moline

A father’s recollection of the joy, fear, and hardships leading up to and following the unexpected premature birth of his daughter. The story of Malia Mei’s courageous journey following her birth.


I was lucky enough to be present for both the conception and birth of both my daughters.  October 1, 2012 marks one of the greatest days of my life.  My daughter Ariah was born and she and I have had a special bond ever since.  She and I have been able to spend a substantial amount of time together (compared to many other working fathers) because I get 3 months off in the summer and close to a month off in the winter between semesters (not to mention holidays, spring break, etc.). There were times, however, that my busy schedule during the semester limited our time together.  In addition to my duties teaching for Casper College, I’ve also worked as one of their athletic trainers, leading to many nights and weekends away from home.  Additionally I taught a night class for the University of North Dakota.  They had an occupational therapy program on our campus and one of their courses was full of material within my specialty (functional anatomy/ kinesiology topics).  Despite these obligations keeping me away from home at times throughout the academic year, we more than made up for lost time by having the full breaks to spend together, finding activities and enjoying our time off and moments together.  When we decided to have another child (and immediately succeeded in our efforts), I was thrilled to be providing Ariah with a sibling to play with and to share our special moments with.  As it would turn out, the process of getting to that point would include a whirlwind of emotional challenges unlike anything I imagined ever going through.  This memoir is my attempt of demonstrating those emotions through a narrative of events that occurred in the time leading up to and following the birth of our second child.

Friday, February 26th.  

2:43 pm

This was an open lab day in OT 424, the course I teach for the University of North Dakota.  Students had previously worked on gonimetric and manual muscle tests for the elbow.  A question arose about positioning the patient to isolate the biceps brachii, brachioradialis, and brachialis muscles.  I was providing a fun, mnemonic device to help students remember how to position the patient’s forearm for each.  That is, for the brachialis, the need to put on the breaks (pronate the forearm), for the brachioradialis, they show that it’s “rad” (thumb pointed up or neutral), and for the biceps brachii, they need to “break the eye” (supinate the forearm so the finger would poke their eye if the continued).  Midway through this discussion, my wife called.  I quickly looked at my phone, noticed it was my wife calling, hit ignore, and placed the phone back in my pocket without missing a beat in my discussion.  After all, this has happened many times before and it didn’t seem appropriate to make my students wait while my wife asked me to pick up milk (or whatever) after work.

The more difficult part of this lesson was next; how do you position the forearm when eliminating gravity.  According to our course textbook, although you can isolate the brachialis and brachioradialis from one another against gravity, when eliminating gravity, the forearm should be pronated for both.  You simply need to palpate the muscle of concern while performing the test.  I did not get an opportunity to describe this to students.

2:48 pm

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my wife had sent me a text message within the last 5 minutes.  My damn Samsung phone didn’t vibrate as much as I would like and often gave me fits for several (irrelevant to this discussion) reasons.  But I surely felt the phone vibrate when she called back.  My heart started to race and I felt a jolt of fear.  Of course I wouldn’t know the true meaning of fear until a couple of weeks later, but at the time, I felt fear.  My wife calling twice in a row while 32 weeks pregnant could only mean one thing, and it wasn’t to pick up milk.

I quickly excused myself from the class, explaining that this was 2 calls in a row from my wife and that “means something.”  I stepped out of the room and answered the call with a nervous “hello?”  “My water broke.  I’m on the way to the hospital.”  That’s about all I remember from the conversation.  I quickly went back into the classroom contemplating what to do, what to say.  “I have to go” I stammered.  I heard a joyous “yes” from amongst the students (they knew my wife was pregnant so I’m sure they were excited for the news… or class getting out early was excitement enough).  “It’s so early” I choked out, standing in the front of the room, clueless what to do next.  Luckily one of the students pushed me in the right direction, telling me to go, get to my wife, they’ll figure out what they need to and be just fine.  So away I went, trudging up the endless stairs on campus to get to my office, followed by my car, and ultimately the hospital.

Come back in two weeks to pick up on the next part of Malia Mei: A Courageous Birth.

If you liked this post, take a read through these other Jelly Bean Journals writings:

Little Brother N’s Story: A Different Kind of Birth Part I

A Birthday Letter Tradition: Happy 4th Birthday N!

The New Birth Plan is My Birth Plan

The Start of a Movement: Baby A’s Birth Story Part I

N’s Birth Story – Part I

Dear Kids, I Want You To Know I Will Always…

Negotiate Your Medical Bills Away

I Wish I Could

9 Things I Hope My Grown Son Can Say About His Working Mom

A Dad’s Dilemma: Why is this Kid Crying?

Pretty Little Lies: Speaking Out About C-Sections, VBAC Bans & Shame

From the Mouths of Mommas – #1

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